Every real estate transaction has a story

#615 in a series of true experiences in real estate
January 2011, Hills Newspapers

Word gift from a client: “I am so pleased to pay you,” she said as she was signing her closing papers.

She chose us to represent her in the sale of her house because, she wanted us to know, she had trusted us from the first. One of her children, she laughed now, had teased her that she did everything “those women” told her to do. He’d been amazed; he’d never known her to follow anyone else’s advice like that – “How come?” he’d asked. “They were right,” she’d replied.

We liked hearing this, of course, particularly when it was coming from a woman we have enjoyed working with very much. We had met only a few months before, yet we felt that we had loved her for years. In fact the only “bummer” is that she is moving a long distance away and we don’t know when we will see her again.

She particularly appreciated, she went on as we lingered together, the help Anet had given her with two bumps that had appeared during the sale: the furnace and the mistaken loan. Just before the house went on the market it was discovered that the furnace must be replaced. Anet arranged for several heating companies to go see the situation, give opinions and bids for making things right. Anet talked to the estimators about ducting, venting, and timing for installation, then she and the seller decided which company to hire.

Later in the sale, after the buyer was in contract, we learned that a loan was erroneously recorded against the house. The seller had applied for an equity line a year or so ago, then had decided not to borrow the money after all. She had signed a loan recision, but communications were apparently muddled; the bank had, wrongly, recorded a lien against the house.

Anet had patiently worked her way through a string of bank employees until she found the one the seller should talk to. Although the seller had discarded all of the loan paperwork, the problem was readily resolved.

The seller was thankful for the people we had referred her to for help in getting her house ready: the inspectors; the tree pruner; cleaning people who also did some hauling; the stager; our favorite window washers. All were good.

Selling a house is a big project. It involves time and money and emotion. This seller was heading in a new direction, a different life in a different state. She was excited and she was committed to going to her new home but, like many others in her position, she grieved over the loss of the life she was used to. She’d lived in her house for 30 years, raised her children there, had loved her community and her friends. Now she was leaving, probably not to return.

She had a lot to think about, a lot to do. As she cleaned out cupboards and closets, gave away tools and leftover project materials, she worked on saying “goodbye.” Her family came and they revisited memories, good ones and sad . One grandchild asked if grandma was leaving him forever.

The inspectors told her about things that were wrong with the house. Some of these were problems she had, she thought, fixed long ago; others, like the furnace, were surprises. There were moments when she bristled, hurried to the defense of her home.

Friends and neighbors reminisced, wished her well, wondered aloud if it was wise, at her age, to start again in a new place. She put off going to her hair cutter for a last haircut until the very end. “I’m so sorry to leave her,” she told us. “I’ve known her since she was pregnant with her first child; he’s a teenager now. And she knows how to cut my curly hair.”

She sent out change of address cards to distant friends, then was sorry that she had for they called and wanted to know the whole story. She wasn’t ready to tell the story yet. One foot was still here; the other wasn’t quite in the new land yet.

She gave her blue couch to the church, the old upright piano to her grandson, and she rented a storage space for treasures she wouldn’t need but couldn’t give up. Then she plotted for days about what to take with her, traveling by train. She shopped until she found the ideal, lockable containers, confirmed that the train would accept them and store them for her during a weekend stopover, then filled the lockers with clothes, a few photographs, a few favorite books.

And so she is off, this gracious, life-smart lady, to different and, we hope, ever better things. The buyer is delighted to be taking over the house; he knew what it was about and wanted to live there the minute he walked in for the first time. Houses, we are sure, soak up the energy of those who live there. This walls of this house had absorbed much happiness.

It has been a pleasure. With clients like this, no wonder we love our work.

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